For years and as long as I can remember, the Montreal Canadiens have been lacking strongly in one thing. Goal scoring. Heading into the 2015 season, one reason for optimism in regards to this is the signing of highly skilled forward Alex Semin. Some fans might ask, how can a player coming off of a 6 goal, 13 assist season create hype for a Canadiens team that lacks finishers? Here are some reasons to be excited about the dimension that Semin brings to this Habs team.
Goal Scoring Experience
With 191 career NHL regular season goals to go along with 15 playoff goals, its safe to say that Semin knows how to put the puck in the back of the net. With seven 20 goal seasons to go along with scoring above 35 goals in three of those, the Canadiens have been able to add a premiere goal scorer on a cheap contract that is out to prove that he can still score goals for an NHL club. Although Semin is coming off of a quiet season, injuries and playing time played a large role in why he didn’t pot his usually reliable 20 goals. A lot of people questioned how Semin would fit in on a Michel Therrien coached hockey team, yet through three games, Therrien has played Semin to his strengths and actually used the former 40 goal scorer quite well. Is it wise for the Canadiens to count on Semin to produce? I would say yes, judging by experience, but that they need to be cautious and put him in a situation to succeed. So far so good Habs fans.
Over the years, the Canadiens have built a roster that shaped around two way hockey, and adding an offensive player that can create plays out of nothing like Semin adds a special dimension to the team that was certainly lacking. Of course players like Pacioretty, Galchenyuk, Gallagher, and Plekanec have the skill to do damage against other teams top players, but Semin adds that skill aspect that has been severely lacking in Montreal. Pacioretty has the speed and finishing ability, but Semin and Galchenyuk both bring that WOW aspect that Canadiens hockey has been missing since the days of Alexei Kovalev.
Power Play Help
Now I think that we can all agree that the skill on the Canadiens powerplay was actually quite good last year, but yet they couldn’t produce goals, finishing 23rd in the league and only converting on 16.5% of their chances. A powerplay with PK Subban, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher should never be in the bottom third of the league in any category, let alone one with a man advantage. You see, the problem with the Canadiens powerplay wasn’t the personnel, but the structure that it was being used with. How does dump and chase hockey on a powerplay use your resources to their utmost ability? It doesn’t and this season the Habs are looking to prove that they have the capability to bring this powerplay back to a respectable one in the top 10. Alex Semin could be one of the main reasons that this powerplay gets back on track, but only if they put him in a place where he can get the most out of his talents. The best place to use Alex Semin on the powerplay would be along the halfwall or manning one of the points with PK Subban. Semin has a deadly shot that we have yet to really witness during the first week of the season, but you can be sure that the coaching staff is going to strongly encourage him to let his bullet of a shot go more often than not. Semin is an underrated play maker and using him at the point allows him to use his elite distribution skills and also allows the Habs to have another great shot on the point with PK Subban. Teams currently focus on taking PK Subban out of the equation on the powerplay, and adding a lethal shot like Semin to go along with Pacioretty only increases the Canadiens chances of regaining a good powerplay.
Take a look at this wrist shot, folks.
The addition of Alex Semin to this Canadiens team adds a dimension that the Habs have been missing dearly. This addition could ultimately put the Canadiens in contention to be taken seriously as an Eastern Conference contender and maybe even put them over the top if Semin does what he is capable of doing.
Zack joined The Hockey Writers in 2015 and has been writing about hockey for over 4 seasons. He currently covers the Montreal Canadiens and Peterborough Petes for The Hockey Writers.